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Girls basketball: LA drops two games at home

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By Mike Cote

It’s not often that the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls varsity basketball team is going into a game with the smaller lineup.But the St. Pius X Sartans sport some height on their roster, and that height paid dividends for them in Saturday’s game.St. Pius, the third-ranked team in the state according to the most recent New Mexico Overtime Sports Center poll, have four girls listed at 5-foot-11 or above and five others in the neighborhood.Those big girls were instrumental in the Sartans’ 51-45 win Saturday at Griffith Gymnasium.Playing in the nightcap of a doubleheader with the Los Alamos boys — who beat Farmington 62-38 — Los Alamos’ girls could find no answer for St. Pius’ offensive rebounding in the first half. St. Pius had nine second-chance points in the first half and would’ve had considerably more had it made some of its many close-range misfirings.St. Pius led only by five at the half, thanks in no small part to an outstanding individual effort from post Taylor Ealey. Ealey score eight points in the second quarter when little else was working offensively for the Hilltoppers.She would finish the game with 20 points, tying her for the game-high with Mary Rose Paiz.Paiz, a 5-11 forward with excellent strength and good instincts down low, scored 11 of her points off putbacks.Saturday’s loss was the third of the week for Los Alamos (8-9), which dropped Friday’s home game against Rio Grande 49-40. It was a game where Los Alamos set itself up well, ran its offense well and couldn’t buy a basket.The three losses — the first came at Manzano by a final of 44-35 — came in the final three games of Los Alamos’ nondistrict season.Despite the losses against three solid clubs, Los Alamos seems unfazed and ready to take on the District 2AAAA competition. It opens Tuesday at home against Taos.“I’m impressed with how we played (Saturday),” Hilltopper guard Keyla Tumas said. “We played with a lot of intensity and a lot of heart.”Although Saturday’s contest was a rough one physically — post Bryanna Richins took an elbow just above her eye and had to be taken to the hospital early in the third quarter — Los Alamos was never out of it.The Hilltoppers trailed by eight heading into the final quarter, when Tyree Richins bombed a 3-pointer with just a minute expired. Ealey hit a pair of short bucket before nailing a 3-pointer of her own to put Los Alamos within 45-43 with nearly three minutes still left in the game.Los Alamos head coach Gerry Washburn said his team started rushing its shots a little bit from that point on, and never found the equalizing bucket.Washburn said he wasn’t worried about the three-game slide and is feeling pretty good about where his team’s at overall.“The key now is knowing not just that we’re fighting hard, but we’re learning how to win,” Washburn said. “We’ve accomplished just about everything we wanted to accomplish pre-district.”